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Photo: Jonathan Torgovnik/Getty Images

A third of large-circulation newspapers had to cut staff in 2020, according to a new study from the Pew Research Center.

Why it matters: The Pew study findings show how the coronavirus pandemic heavily impacted the media industry over the past year. The number of layoffs exceed those from 2019, when one quarter of large newspapers experienced layoffs.

  • "In the first 6 months of 2020, more than 11,000 newsroom jobs have been lost. That's nearly as many as were lost in all of 2009," Axios' Sara Fischer wrote last July.

Details: The study looked at 86 newspapers that had an average Sunday circulation of 50,000 or more, including The New York Times and The Washington Post. The Wall Street Journal was also examined since it is one of the largest newspapers in the U.S. despite not reporting its Sunday circulation.

  • In 2019 staff cuts were similar across newspapers of different sizes.
  • Pew found that in 2020 papers with a Sunday circulation of 250,000 or more were more likely to experience layoffs.
    • Pew suggested this difference could have been caused by federal pandemic aid relief:
"During the coronavirus pandemic, many small and medium-sized newspaper companies were able to apply for federal aid through the CARES Act, a federal coronavirus aid package designed to help small businesses pay employees and other expenses. However, due to rules surrounding this loan program, many local newspapers owned by larger companies such as Gannett or McClatchy were not eligible to apply."
  • 1 in 10 newspapers publicly announced multiple layoffs for the year. Nearly half of the newspapers that reported staff cuts in 2020 reported others the year prior, "indicating that many of the same papers have been forced to implement layoffs multiple times in recent years," Pew writes.

The big picture: More than half of all media jobs lost in 2020 were in digital, print and broadcast newsrooms, per Fischer.

Go deeper

Small business struggles

Illustration: Trent Joaquin/Axios

Small businesses aren’t thriving quite like their large corporate counterparts.

Why it matters: It's a signal of the bifurcated pandemic recovery, in which the biggest U.S. companies have reported record earnings growth as they leveraged higher wages to help recruitment and used their scale to make cost cuts.

"Atmospheric river" to whiplash Northern California from drought to flood

A map depicting 24-hour preciptation forecast (inches) ending Monday at 5a.m. local time. Photo: NOAA

A series of powerful "atmospheric river" storms are set dump historic amounts of rainfall across parts of drought-stricken California and the Pacific Northwest from this weekend, forecasters warn.

Why it matters: A strong atmospheric river, packing large amounts of moisture, is predicted to whiplash Northern California from drought to flood.

10,000 trees near giant sequoia groves to be removed after fires

A firefighter looks up at a giant sequoia tree after fire burned through the Sequoia National Forest near California Hot Springs, California, on Sept. 23. Photo: Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images

"Upwards of" 10,000 trees near giant sequoia groves have been "weakened by drought, disease, age, and/or fire" and must be removed in the wake of California's wildfires, the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks announced.

Why it matters: The damage to these trees, considered "national treasures," and work to remove them means a nearby key highway must remain closed to visitors as they have "the potential to strike people, cars, other structures, or create barriers to emergency response services," per a statement from the national parks.